By Mike Elk, reposted here from In These Times
OSHA Declines to Issue Rule Protecting Workers From Heat
By Mike Elk
As high temperature records are broken across the United States, health and public safety advocates are calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to finally issue a rule protecting workers from extreme heat. In 1972, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended a heat standard, but OSHA has still failed to implement it. With global warming likely to make heat related deaths more common, public safety advocates say OSAH must act immediately.
“Some farm workers and construction workers work for hours on end and there are no accommodations for rest breaks. This is what commonly leads to heat deaths” says Dr. Sammy Almashat, a researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “We are asking for rest breaks in proportion to the temperature outside as well as employers being required to provide workers with a certain amount of water every hour. This does not require some sort of a technological breakthrough. It’s very easy and inexpensive.”
The failure of OSHA to adopt a heat standard has left many workers unprotected. According to Public Citizen, 563 workers have died from heat-related injuries and 46,000 have suffered serious injuries in the last 20 years.
Read the rest of the article at the link above.
In New Hampshire almost all residential construction work fails to follow basic OSHA standards for safety, many fail to provide toilets on the jobsite, proper fall protection or to follow other rudimentary safety standards. When the heat index hits, unless the supervisor or owner onsite is inclined to stand down, workers must bear the heat and continue on.
Working on roofs gets particularly hairy on hot days as a black asphalt roof after a few hours in the sun can burn skin and radiate heat far above the average of the day for those on the ground.
No one’s life is worth another few dollars for an project owner or a contractor. OSHA needs to be pressured to step up to protect workers, if they don’t, who will?